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Course: Environmental Information Management Training Institute

May 13, 2011 Leave a comment

When you were little you learned very quickly why it was important that you not touch the stove at certain times. You may have learned by physically touching the stove also known as kinesthetic learning. Or you may have watched (and/or subsequently) heard when someone else touched the stove which means you used visual and auditory means of learning not to touch the stove. These different ways of learning apply just the same as a wildlife professional minus the heat unless you’re doing prescribed burns or fighting wildfires.

My strongest area for learning is kinesthetic learning. While I enjoy reading books leisurely or listening when the teachers are preaching, nothing works for me like getting out into the field to put what I’ve heard into practice to see how things connect. What better way for a wildlife career professional to gain experience that fits into their schedule than through courses often offered yearly that can help them stay up to date with current field practices or learn new ones?

One set of field courses being sponsored by the University of New Mexico and DataOne as the Environmental Information Management Training Institute in Albuquerque, NM. Being held May 23 through June 10, 2011 the courses are open to Master’s  and PhD students plus professionals who seek to enhance their data skills…and that is just saying it simply. More specifically the Institute seeks to teach its students “to effectively design, manage, analyze, visualize, and preserve data and information” by exposing potential students to “all aspects of the data life cycle: from managing data files and creating databases and web portals, through state-of-the-art analysis and visualization techniques, as well as managing, analyzing, and visualizing geospatial data.”

Composed of three courses (all must be taken) six credit hours will be earned and graduate tuition rates apply. The total for the program is $1,595.34 regardless if you are considered in state versus out-of-state. If you’re not a student at the University of Mexico, you are still welcome to apply to the program. Take note however to apply as a non-degree student before registering to the Institute, a $10  fee applies. As for housing (hopefully you’re being funded through an agency or are already a student) you will be on the search for a potential place to stay. This can be discouraging for many looking to take the course even if they already live in the state much less are coming from out-of-state. Hotels in the area run $50-75 per night but during the last week of the program on campus residence halls open up that you could stay in for $45/night. Studying from your car is not an option…unless of course your car is actually an RV.

The courses that you will be taking are as follows:

INFO 530  Environmental Information Management

INFO 532  Environmental Data Analysis and Visualization

INFO 533  Spatial Data Management in Environmental Sciences

Details for these courses will be found via the University’s website dedicated to the Institute. Each course is a week-long journey beginning at 8am and ending at 5pm Monday through Friday hosted in a computer classroom. Don’t worry; I’m sure there will be sometime in there to eat!

With the amount of data we obtain growing each day the means of organizing and being able to easily retrieve that data is important. The organizers of Databasin are aware of this and created a site centered around the collection and distribution of data for professionals in the natural resource fields (and interested parties) working with spatial data (hint: Ctrl-D).

If you’re an undergraduate you might be interested in taking the online course Info 320 Information Management for Professionals online. This (I feel) would be a great introduction and look into what you can expect if you should decide to attend the Institute.

You can  find this and other courses detailed on the Field Course Calendar that I’ve created. While at this moment the calendar only has this course check back often for new additions.

Note: There are some more facts about this Institute that I am waiting to obtain. I will update this post when I get them.

Benefits of the Senapa Road

January 15, 2011 3 comments

Developed. Developing. Third World. First World.

Each pair of words are often used to describe countries which have a high economical status versus those that do not. It makes the pressure to “succeed” greater when the world revolves around money even into the point of pricing nature also known as natural capital.

Tanzania realizes that in order to be a country with an economical presence they need to be able to connect with all their citizens so that they may advance collectively. For this, Tanzania can be proud of the initiative they are taking to provide for their citizens. A particular measure that the leadership of Tanzania hopes to pursue is by creating a new road that transverses the Serengeti National Park (Senapa). Since there are already two roads crossing the park, you may wonder what makes this road significant.

I. Potential tourism.

Tanzania enjoys a healthy tourism industry based mostly around (not exclusively)  the natural spectacle of the wildebeest migration. The creation of a partially paved road opens the means for which tourists could visit remote areas of Tanzania rich in cultural history.

II. Access to hospitals, job opportunities, schools etc.

Though Tanzania is experiencing economic growth, the country still battles poverty. The provisions that the road seeks to provide include access to easier access to hospitals in larger cities or for hospitals to be built in the smaller Musoma. Current access to smaller communities is limited because of poor roads or the lack of roads altogether.

Having served as a temp worker for a few jobs, I understand how holding a job even for a fleeting moment can make a difference. Currently, construction is being planned to begin in 2012. For anyone who may be employed (and trained) from the two small towns, these jobs are essential to assisting the agricultural based communities whose success are as wary as the climate.

In terms of education, this road could open up educational opportunities for residents of Musoma who have secondary education but lack the opportunity to consider post-secondary schooling to now have that chance. As a lifelong learner (for my short time on earth) I believe that everyone should have the means of being educated and seeking further education if they wish.

III. Travelling monies.

With the construction of this new road between Arusha and Musoma, travel is expected to increase greatly. With minerals available in Lake Victoria for the creation of batteries, the increased job market for this area isn’t the only plus. Travelers buying gas, paying for taxis/buses and perhaps paying a toll to use the road all would contribute to the monetary value that can be reaped from this road. The benefit that Tanzania will receive from an industry based in batteries is a form of natural capital and is an ecosystem service.

IV. Access to resources.

Musoma’s current existence tethers on a thread. The viability of the town is contingent on access to resources for the community’s inhabitants beyond an agricultural foundation. President Kikwete noted that one of the benefits of the road is the chance for citizens to have access to electricity and eventually cell phone service. I do not feel I would err to say that this access would also bring in clean water supplies as well, and materials to build homes that can deliver these utilities.

From these four intertwined areas I have found to be the greatest benefits from the construction of the road. The potential for Tanzania’s economy is great but at what cost? In light of the road’s proposal the benefits of the road seem to be outweighed by its cons.

<-Introduction Costs of the Senapa Road->

To Save the Serengeti Introduction

November 29, 2010 1 comment

In June of 2010, news that Tanzania (TZ) was planning the construction of a 50 km (30 mile) road through the Serengeti National Park (Senapa) was a contradiction to their recognition as a top international conservation authority by many organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, IUCN, and UNESCO. As I’ve been following this story’s development I’ve been learning of the positive and negative aspects of this road’s construction plus weighing each side. So I’ve decided to dissect the issues being addressed into five parts:

I. Benefits of the Senapa road

II. Costs of the Senapa road

III. Senapa alternatives

IV. Questions/Concerns

V. Why do I care?

By taking more than a courtesy look at the Senapa construction, I hope to present a case which reveals how the read would be harmful to the Serengeti ecosystem and citizen livelihoods in a reasonable manner without claiming gloom and doom; only potentially irreversible damage. =)

It helps to know that the word Serengeti is devolved from the Maasai word Siringet which means a vast land that runs forever or (my preferred description) “endless plains where the land meets the sky(UNC)” It is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania and the oldest (Official TZ Parks). Furthermore, TZ is home to the big 5: the lion, elephant, rhino, water buffalo and leopard. Every year hundreds of thousands of wildebeest accomapanied by eland, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and a host of predators engage in the greatest terrestrial migration able to be witnessed. The Senapa was recognized as a world heritage site as well by UNESCO for its unique cultural values.

Surrounding the Senapa are several communities which is the reason the proposed road has surfaced to connect these estranged communities to larger ones via the 2004 promise campaign promise by President Jakaya Kikwete and construction is designed to begin in 2010. With these facts in mind stay tuned for the benefits of the Serengeti National Park road construction.

 

->Benefits of the Senapa Road

Alaska Universities and Colleges with Wildlife Programs

October 18, 2010 2 comments

Hey there. I’ve just completed all of the Alaska Universities and Colleges which have environmentally based programs. There aren’t many schools but the programs undoubtedly are among the best in the nation especially for marine based studies. It is that time of year again where students should be searching for and applying to colleges. So if you’re interested in careers in the outdoors keep following along with this blog as I post each state up. Hopefully I can get to more states quickly however the process is time consuming. This is especially so because I want to do my best to make sure that I’ve included every updated major and contact information.

I’ve also created the abbreviation list for the degree programs. I’ll be sure to update it as I meander through the states and record their degree information.  So if you’re interested in forestry, natural resources, wildlife, fisheries or any of the other related sciences don’t hesitate to check out the states here,  and for Alabama. I actually have Arizona and Arkansas as well but it was completed back in April or so. I plan to update it but if you don’t want to wait till then check it out here as well.

So if you’re a high school student and you’re wondering “What should I major in?” or “What are some outdoor majors?” take a peek. You’ll learn something.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh need to shut up about Obama fishing ban

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Minority Involvement in Natural Resources Still An Issue

February 24, 2010 5 comments

Minority involvement in natural resources and closely related fields has been a hot topic since at least, the late 1970s. It was in 1977 that The Wildlife Society took initiative and conducted their first survey of women and ethnic minorities’ presence in these sciences referring to ethnic minorities as Blacks, Hispanics, American Indian, Oriental, Aleut/Eskimo and Other (international students). So how far has the natural resource profession come in increasing minority involvement? What factors hinder progress, if any? And what methods are being pursued to address the lack of minority representation?

Dr. Harry Hodgen conducted a study looking into women and ethnic minority representation in the natural resource field plus closely related disciplines. In this 1977 study it was found that of 11,858 students at 63 natural resource schools responding to the questionnaire only 3.1% were minorities or 370 people were enrolled (Hodgen 1980).  By the next study two years later of 16, 287 only 3.7% were ethnic minorities (Hodgen 1982). Today enrollment of ethnic minorities continues to be a struggle pursued by multiple natural resource universities and agencies as population projections depict a higher minority population by 2050 (http://www.census.gov/population/www/pop-profile/natproj.html) and wish to reflect this representation among students and personnel. A study by Environmental Careers Organization (Taylor 2007) showed that a number of prominent environmental organizations lacked diversity on their staffs. The result of ECO’s  study enacted response from several of the groups to alter how minorities are recruited, instill affirmative action plans and network in minority communities (Taylor 2007). What’s sad (and accepted as true) as I read from Taylor’s research is that these environmental organizations feel that minorities don’t accept natural resource positions because of low salary or simply not enough of them apply. Why? Is it because not enough is being done?

“When the above disparity was addressed as an issue in the early 1970s, professional societies,       universities, industries, and governments responded with programs to diversify the science workforce. Almost 3 decades later, little improvement can be identified.” (Referring to the realization of the increasing minority population but the lack of equal representation in natural resources and related fields). Davis 2002

Somewhere along the line something, SOMEONE, is missing. Today we see many organizations looking to increase diversity but I haven’t been able to discern how effective or ineffective their programs are as none seem to report data on their successes or misses so that others may follow.

I developed an interest in wildlife at the age on ten after my family obtained our dog Rex (RIP). Shortly after gaining Rex the local library began setting magazines outside for free or else they’d be thrown away. These magazines were Wildlife Conservation, International Wildlife Conservation and a few Sierra Club publications. I would greedily watch that box for new magazines to take home extract all the articles, the front and back covers, and wildlife pictures scattered throughout the advertisement pages (I would cut these out) and place them in three-ring binder notebooks to read. So between 4th and 5th grade this is what I did, and to this day I have all three article packed notebook. My love for wildlife was fixed at that age. I didn’t hunt then. I was even a preservationist (despite the wildlife conservation magazines) having read ‘Man Kind?’ by Amory Cleveland and was adamant that every creature, and tree should live until I picked up a magazine by the National Wildlife Turkey Federation.

Because this magazine was still owned by my library I couldn’t devour its pages at home and keep them but during my fifth grade year NWTF had a contest where middle school students had to define in an essay what conservation means to them. It was then at the library that I finally gained understanding of what conservation meant through the eyes of someone else my age because I could read all the wildlife magazines I wanted but none of them had explained it the way I needed to hear it. I walked home that day a newborn conservationist. Through the years it was my own drive and at times those of my parents that spurned me to continue in wildlife. Little pay? So what! I determined in 4th grade that as long as I can go home at the end of the day smiling and wake up excited money means nothing. There was no one in my life to direct me,, minority or not, and I didn’t meet my first wildlife professional until I reached college, and the first minority in wildlife, Dr. Drew Lanham, until then. What’s wrong with this picture?

“We believe there is substantial interest in natural resources in the minority community, but there are limited sources from which potential students can find out about professional opportunities (McCoy 1990).”  High school and even junior college guidance counselors generally have little knowledge of natural resource professions, or they may discourage minorities from considering such careers (Massey 1992).” I, too, faced this sort of discouragement coming through high school, but I wasn’t willing to let go. My only resource was the internet and my treasured magazines from years ago, but I had little knowledge to rely on otherwise. I was never able to participate in community natural resource camps because they required funds my family didn’t have and when I was able to participate in camp it was a recreational day camp unrelated to wildlife. So the picture becomes distorted when there aren’t a sufficient numbers of people who are advertising (I feel this is what it boils down to) natural resources as a career option. I was able to pull through but what about everyone else?

Something else I’ve come to realize in writing this is that some minorities feel that, “Career opportunities in natural resources disciplines should be marketed in terms of the diversity of technical skills and academic training…. Regardless of type of work, job title, technical training, or academic background, many respondents’ comments revealed that they wanted to feel that they were full partners in the natural resource management process (Adams 1998).” However later on in this study by Dr. Adams in the Southeast on opinions of majority and minority natural resource professionals[1] in increasing minority representation some of the initial non-respondents indicated that they did not reply because they felt that “because of their job titles, job descriptions, departments of employment, and educational backgrounds they did not think of themselves as natural resource professionals.” Others considered “the natural resource professional as a field technician or someone who has a direct interaction with the outdoors as part of their job responsibility (Adams 1998).”  This leads me to think that the minority group is a difficult group to work with in being able to discern whether someone wants to be included or excluded….

Does this inclusion or exclusion depend on geographic locales? Why do or don’t people consider themselves natural resource professionals? Why is it a pervading thought that a natural resource professional is someone who works only outside? Do Administrative Assistants, Directors, or other professionals who do not work in the field consider themselves natural resource professionals or professionals who happen to work at a natural resource agency? I find it refreshing when there is a workforce of minds from various institutional backgrounds who collectively contribute to the mission of an agency of which they are able to become a family. As Dr. Adams said the natural resource needs a diversity of people who have a concern for the environment (Adams 1998).  Personally, I would find it hard to work every day at an agency whose mission and vision I neither know nor understand. I’d never be able to consider myself a part of the family….

***

Adams, C.E; M. Moreno . A Comparative Study of Natural Resource Professionals in Minority and Majority Groups in the Southeastern United States .Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 4, Commemorative Issue Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “A Sand County Almanac” and the Legacy of Aldo Leopold (Winter, 1998), pp. 971-981

Davis, R.D Sr., S. Diswood, A. Dominguez, R. W. Engel-Wilson, K. Jefferson, A.K. Miles, E.F. Moore, R. Reidinger, S. Ruther, R. Valdez, K. Wilson, M. A. Zablan. Increasing Diversity in Our Profession. Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 628-633

Hodgdon, H.E. Wildlife Enrollment of Women and Ethnic Minorities in 1979. Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer, 1982), pp. 175-180

Hodgdon, H.E. Enrollment of Women and Ethnic Minorities in Wildlife Curricula: 1977. Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer, 1980), pp. 158-163.

Maughan, O.E, D.L. Bounds, S.M. Morales, S.V. Villegas. A Successful Educational Program for Minority Students in Natural Resources. Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 917-928

Taylor D.E. Diversity and Equity in Environmental Organizations: The Salience of These Factors to Students The Journal of Environmental Education. FALL 2007, VOL. 39, NO. 1


[1] Dr. Clark Adams defines natural resource professionals as “those employed at a natural resource agency with training to follow a line of work specific to that field” (Adams 1998).